A $400 Microsoft Surface may be on the way

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Microsoft’s always taken a premium approach to its Surface line, showing users what its operating system can do when run on top of the line hardware. It’s a model that makes sense for a company with so many ties to third-party hardware manufacturers. But the line that’s been so focused on the high-end needs of “creative professionals” may be getting a budget addition in the near future.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Microsoft is eyeing the end of the year to release a $400 version of the Surface designed to compete more directly with Apple’s ubiquitous tablet. Of course, many have tried and largely failed to take on the iPad — including Microsoft itself.

The company launched the Surface RT half a decade ago, without making much of a splash. These days, the tablet herd has thinned a bit, and Microsoft has established itself as a maker of premium first-party hardware.

The new device is said to sport a 10-inch screen, putting it in direct competition with Apple’s lower-priced iPad. At $400, Microsoft’s entry would run $70 more than the budget iPad’s starting price, but would still run considerably less than the $799 Surface Pro. And this being Microsoft, there are expected to be multiple SKUs. The devices reportedly won’t ship with a keyboard cover — one of the Surface’s biggest selling points — though they’ll all sport a kickstand and feature a USB C port for charging.

Microsoft, naturally, won’t respond to queries about the device, which is reportedly set for a release in the second half of this year. Given the company’s recent push with Windows 10S, the product could certainly make sense as part of the company’s push into low priced devices for the education market.